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Books: Steven Pinker
From the magazine issue dated Oct 27, 2008

The experimental psychologist and Harvard professor has brought big science to the masses with five books since 1994. In his latest, 2007 ' s " The Stuff of Thought, " Pinker mines everyday speech for the connections to our basic thoughts and emotions. His picks:

My Five Most Important Books
1. "The Blind Watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins. A lucid explanation of natural selection and a model of elegant science writing.

2. "The Careful Writer" by Theodore Bernstein. Who would have thought that a style manual could make you laugh?

3. "Enemies: A Love Story" by Isaac Bashevis Singer. A novel about a Holocaust survivor with three wives. Every scene is filled with insight about human nature.

4. "Strategies of Conflict" by Thomas Schelling. A humane Dr. Strangelove explains why it pays to be an irrational hothead.

5. "The Mind-Body Problem" by Rebecca Goldstein. A philosopher grapples with this problem in her doctoral thesis and in her life. I liked it so much, I married the novelist.

A book you always return to: "Principles of Psychology" by William James. Like Mark Twain, James has a witty quote on every subject.

A book you hope parents read to their kids: "One, Two, Three, Infinity" by George Gamow. A delightful introduction to number theory.